Dubai, Mina Seyahi Beach
3rd December 2009
Well, race day was over… and the conditions were even better today. Wind increased overnight, and the swell built up to considerable size. Glicker I think called it ”standard Hawaii conditions”…
The evening before the race I went for a final short paddle just to see the conditions out there, and to give the body a bit of a wakeup. As I steered out of the harbour mouth I noticed Tim Jacobs speeding in on one of the Nelo skis.
How is it? I scream over to him as he swishes by… Aaah..Its aaaaalroiiight he chews out.
I guess he just wanted to make sure the ski wouldn’t be ‘out of this world’ good and he needed to know what his enemies weapons are like.
Glickman, Ola and I decide to go for a nice easy paddle and head out for 7km straight into wind/swell. I see the colourful array of pointy Nelo skis laying in the racks and decided that I needed to check one out.
I moved the pedals all the way forward, and jumped aboard. WOW… first thing you notice is how different the seat is. The entire cockpit is different… The bucket it not as much a bucket, but more a seat, which in the beginning felt weird, but after an hour felt pretty ok actually.
The bump under the knees is pulled down really low resulting in two things, one that due to the ski’s extreme narrowness it feels like your legs are getting jammed in, and two that you can really stretch your leg during the legdrive.
The pedal plate is very different, and you feel directly how the only pressure point you get on it is under the ball of your foot. Very K1’ish. The pedals are controlled by your big toe if it sticks up enough.
Initial stability felt pretty ok. Perhaps slightly less than the V12. Secondary stability felt less then the V12. After the 90 minute paddle I jumped into a V12 again, and noticed how it felt like a sea kayak in stability, and how really roomy and spacious the cockpit felt. You can get used to both, but I definitely felt more secure in the V12, as I like to have my knees a bit further apart. The compact (narrow) seating/leg position did influence me a bit and I felt more wobbly paddling upwind.
Having gotten used to the weird bumpnose of the V12 and the oil tanker fore deck of the V10 the Nelo feels like a rocket. I was expecting it to nosedive on the big runs and to end up with half of the Persian gulf in my lap. So wrong I was. It did however take me a lot of swearing, some swimming to re-adjust the flimsy pedals, and a lot of getting used how to steer this thing before I found out how nicely the razor sharp bow popped up, and the ski planed nicely. These skis are still prototypes and I think they are still learning how and where to put the rudder etc.
The rudder on this boat, was way to far back, and/or it was way to small. Each big swell resulted in the ski broaching, and me swearing about another lost-for-ever beautiful run…I could see the runs disappear in front of my eyes and I knew it could be as much as 6 month until I could catch the next one!..I felt like crying in the beginning, having wobbled 7km into the wind way out passed the Palm Island and expecting the run back to be ‘Epic’. It was only after the swell got slightly smaller, and I learned how to steer this ski (you have to be way ahead of it…and attack the rudder pedals with more power..) Then I felt how smoothly this ski moves.
I believe this is a very nice hull, and the cockpit makes sense. I guess it will appeal to K1 paddlers and not scare them away as much as the normal ski’s do with their typical seating position. Still some small things to sort out for the Nelo boys, but I’m sure they will get a grip on it.
The ski I paddled was 9 kg’s according to the rumours, and I must say, that I would ask for a slightly heavier ski, with a bit more carbon put into it. Not the stiffest layup I felt. However, even here I am positive that Nelo will be able to deliver a very solid, and constant quality.
/Paul for Global Surfski